Last year Steve (DOS) and I traveled to Singapore (Via Helsinki Finland and Canada) for an exciting trip to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We enjoyed it so much, we decided to do it again this year, with a slight twist; mainly the layover in Helsinki, Finland, and starting out in Toronto instead of Calgary for the long-haul flights to Europe and Asia.
Our holiday vacation officially stared Friday January 25th, however, we stayed at at the Hyatt Place Orlando Airport on Thursday night January 24th. While we normally stay at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, the rate was $450 for the one night, and they had no award nights available – quite steep for one night!
DOS and I stayed at the nearby Hyatt Place Orlando Airport, which was a quick 10 minute shuttle ride from the airport, using Hyatt points for the night. After checking in around 7pm (via Uber drive to the airport) we headed over to Longhorn’s Steakhouse for dinner.
On Friday morning, we had a quick breakfast at the hotel, and took the 8:30am shuttle to Orlando International Airport. The check-in at American Airlines was quick, and after going thru security, we had a few relaxing minutes at the American Admiral’s Club in Orlando near our gate, 57.
Our flight to Charlotte was slightly delayed, although as we had a two hour layover in Charlotte, it was not an issue at all. We had lunch at one of my favorite dining places in the Charlotte Airport, “Carolina Barbecue”.
After lunch, we relaxed a bit in the “C” concourse Admiral’s Club, before heading to our gate E-11, a long walk to the commuter airline terminal from the C gates.
We gate-checked our carry-on bag at the gate before boarding the Canadian CRJ-900 for our flight from Charlotte to Toronto; a two hour flight.
While not a meal flight, we did at least have some snacks and drinks, and I took a few photos of the snowy landscape before landing in Toronto; a visual reminder that we weren’t in Florida anymore!
After landing, Immigration and Customs was quite orderly and efficient in Toronto. Most people use a kiosk for the immigration questions an officer normally asks, which speeds things up considerably.
We landed at 4:30pm, and after clearing immigration and customs we took a limo to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Downtown Toronto, which incredibly only took half and hour, at this busy Friday rush hour traffic zone going into the city. We were at the hotel by 5:30pm and received a warm welcome back from the Front Desk agents.
As a Hyatt Globalist member, we received a nice suite upgrade at check-in, which was very much appreciated. We were on the 14th floor which offered nice views of the city. We had a separate bedroom, living room and bathroom.
The staff at the Hyatt Regency Toronto was so eager to please, and recommended a nice steakhouse for dinner, The Keg Steakhouse, which was a short walk from the hotel. While we couldn’t get reservations for the evening, we had a fun wait in the bar area for 40 minutes or so, giving us a feel for the local atmosphere.
Once seated, we had a nice a semi-private booth from which we enjoyed our leisurely meal. Our waitress Danielle was awesome, and the restaurant was exactly to our liking – classy upscale without being pretentious- just great food and service!
The Prime Rib was their specialty which we both ordered, and it was outstanding and cooked true medium rare, exactly how me liked it.
Danielle even treated us to a huge and delicious complimentary dessert as ‘first time visitors’ to the The Keg Steakhouse!
Thanks Danielle – you were terrific and made our dinner meal in Toronto extra-special! We will definitely come back on our next visit to Toronto.
Back at the hotel I had a nightcap brewski at the hotel bar, while DOS headed up to our 14th floor suite.
Today (Saturday) we slept in a bit, and had a nice buffet breakfast at the hotel around 10am. Breakfast actually goes until noon on weekends, although most people were finishing up as we arrived.
After breakfast we walked around the downtown area, over towards the CN Tower plaza. While we didn’t go up in the tower this visit (we did that last year), it was a beautiful sunny, if not chilly day, great for taking in the sites.
Across the street from the CN Tower was an outdoor beer festival going on which looked quite lively, but we just got a photo of the entrance sign, as it was 1pm, a bit too early for a beer bash even for me!
Here are a few photos of our early afternoon walk around downtown Toronto.
Once back at the hotel we finished packing and checked out at 3pm. We had arranged for an SUV transfer to the airport, and we had quite a fun and talkative (informative) driver name Baki. We got his business card and he said he would love to show us around Toronto in the warmer summer time.
We got checked into our British Airways flight to London around 3:30pm, and there was no wait as we checked in our 3 large bags. We then headed over to the International departure section of the terminal, which is way nicer than the Domestic/US bound flight terminal we went out of last time going home.
Now we are in the British Airways lounge sitting in the exclusive First Class/Gold members ala-carte dining area. While we are in Business Class, there is no First Class cabin on this flight and we have Emerald status with American, which is equivalent to British Airways Gold. Dining here is nice, with a three course meal served by a very friendly waiter.
Have to head to our flight now; it’s 5:47pm. To be continued . . . Next stop – London!